Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Honeymoon In French Polynesia: Tahiti, Rangiroa, Moorea

Day 1 - Tahiti/Rangiroa

We arrived in Papeete, Tahiti at 5AM. The airport was a zoo. All international flights seem to arrive very early. We zipped through customs and were greeted by representatives from Sunmakers (the Tahitian company that our travel agent dealt with) we both received beautiful flower leis and were told where to go to catch our flight to Rangiroa. Beleive it or not, the airport bathrooms were quite clean.

We checked in for our 1 hour flight to Rangiroa, had our bags checked, and were then told to take them across the aisle to be declared sanitarily inspected. (This was strange, as all the gentleman did was put stickers on our bags.) We then brought them back to the ticket counter where they were taken to the plane. The twin-prop plane ride to Rangiroa took about 50 minutes and wasn't too bad, we slept most of the way.

Upon landing at the Rangiroa airport, we were greeted by a representative of the Kia Ora Village, who adorned us both with our second flower lei of the day. After gathering our baggage, we took a quick (5 minute) van ride to the hotel. The staff at the reception desk were quite nice and had us checked into our fare (room) quickly. After getting situated we grabbed a quick buffet breakfast, consisting of bread, pastries, fruits, yogurts, etc.

With our stomachs satiated, we decided to take a nap, after all, we were slightly tired. Afterwards, we walked the few steps down to the beach and got some sun and relaxed.

We then went to lunch which consisted of salad and a cheese plate for me, and fried coconut shrimps with a spicy cognac sauce for Jill. Both were excellent.

After lunch it was back to the beach where we lied out and snorkeled all afternoon. We then proceeded to take another nap before dinner. From about 5:30-6:45, I stood outside with the camera taking pictures of the beautiful sunset.

Before going to dinner, we sat out at the overwater bar and relaxed and drank some water (non-bottled) which was fresh, not salty and actually very good.The bar had several areas that had glass floors allowing you to see directly through to the many fish swimming below.

I then signed up at reception for the 8:00AM scuba dive the next morning. Dinner (along with breakfast) was in the one restaurant at the hotel and was prix-fixe. One appetizer, one entree, and a dessert buffet. We both had cream of tomato soup. Jill had lemon sturgeon and I had jack fish with basil in tomato sauce. Each meal was accompanied by broccoli, rice, and ratatouille. The meals were good, not great. Dessert consisted of pastries, cakes, and chocolate mousse all of which were good.

After dinner, both of us exhausted, we decided to call it a night around 9:30PM. We slept well, without many mosquitoes (Jill got a bite of two and I got none). The temperature and humidity were comfortable as well.

Day 2 - Rangiroa

We awoke at about 7:00AM to the sound of pouring rain against the thatched roof of our hut. I ran outside to gather the towels and clothes that we thought were drying on our porch. It was not very pretty outside. However, I proceeded to get ready for scuba and a quick breakfast with Jill. While, the weather ruined Jill?s morning jog, I knew my dive would happen rain or shine.

We both went over to the restaurant to have breakfast, where we had basically the same thing as the previous day. Shortly after finishing, we met a couple who had already visited the other 3 islands we would be going to. It also turned out that the guy was going to dive at the same time as me. We went and got our vouchers from reception and headed down the dock. (He had already dove at Rangiroa). At this point, the sun had come out and it looked liked a beautiful day lie ahead.

We jumped into a small rubber zodiac boat and we were off. I was a little nervous diving with more experienced divers, buy hey, I just went with the flow. By the time my gear was set up, we had entered the ocean (Kia Ora Village, as is the case with most hotels on Rangiroa was on the lagoon side) and were ready to go. Wow, within seconds of flipping off the boat, I was swimming inches from two gray reef sharks. It was awesome. The dive proceeded toward the reef where we saw schools of jack fish, barracuda, etc. Towards the end of the dive we saw a Manta Ray with a span of about 5-6 feet. Wow! After 40 minutes and eighty feet, the dive was over. I have to say in my short diving career, it was the best I had seen.

We zipped back to the resort where Jill and I spent the rest of the day sunning, snorkeling, and napping. There were a few intermittent showers throughout the day, but it didn?t ruin the day. Lunch was essentially the same as yesterday, however instead of a green vegetable salad. I got a tomato and mozzarella salad. We sat at the bar in the early afternoon before lunch and had some soft drinks. Before dinner, in what would become a nightly ritual, I took pictures of the sunset.

At around 7:00PM we got ready for dinner, which on this night was a barbecue buffet. There were many salads, pasta, rice, cabbage, potato, all with some sort of seafood in them. There was, also, hot zucchini and rice. The barbecue contained baked potato, Tahitian banana, fish, chicken, steak and sausage. Everything was basically good and wholesome, but nothing stood out. Dessert was a buffet similar to the previous evening.

After dinner, we again turned in early at about 9:00PM, since our flight out to Moorea via Papeete left at 9:40AM.

Wow, what a difference a day makes. Our night?s sleep was not too great. Mosquitoes ate us alive and the humidity was uncomfortable, yet not unbearable. The mosquitoes however...were horrifying. After waking up in the middle of the night to apply Skintastic by Off, I was okay for the rest of the night. Word to the wise, put on some kind of repellent before going to sleep, and keep it by your bedside.

Day 3 - Rangiroa/Moorea

After the night we had, we were glad to wake up. We were told to be at reception by 8AM to check out and drive to the airport. We received shell leis as good-byes and were off to the airport. Our flight left about 40 minutes later than we expected, but it wasn?t a big deal. We had a 10 minute flight to Tikehau and then left on a 50 minute flight to Papeete.

In Papeete we needed to get to Terminal 2, or the Air Moorea terminal, for our flight to Moorea. This was a decent ways. Be sure to get baggage carts. After eating one croissant each for breakfast at the snack bar, we proceeded to climb into a 8 seater prop-plane for our flight. We sat right behind the pilot for an exciting 10 minute ride.

We were picked up in Moorea by a travel service which was arranged by our agent. A very kind Hawaiian transplant trucked us the 20 minutes to our hotel (which he said was the nicest on the island, to our sheer joy). We checked into our overwater bungalow and were pleasantly surprised. Our room was far from the front desk and more private than some others. It consisted of a bedroom, a living area with a desk and a couch and chairs, a large bathroom with tub and separate shower, and a good size balcony over the water with a ladder leading into the lagoon. Each balcony had a patio table surrounded by four chairs. We loved it. Our room also had a fridge and safe.

After getting settled, we had lunch in the hotel restaurant. Jill and I both had a green salad with bleu cheese and walnuts and shared French fries. The food was good and priced about where we had learned to expect hotel food.

With lunch completed, we took a walk around the grounds and then headed back to the fare (hut) to get into bathing suits and lie out on our own little beach with steps into the lagoon. We were pleasantly surprised by a fresh tropical fruit basket sent by our travel agent. We ate the succulent fruits on our balcony and then went back outside. We spent the rest of the day relaxing until we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

After showering we headed over to dinner in the hotel restaurant which on this night was a Polynesian barbecue with entertainment. The food was similar to the previous evening, in Rangiroa, although much better and with a much wider assortment. Again there were salads of all kinds with seafood and barbecued steak, lamb, chicken kebobs, mahi-mahi, and tuna. Desserts were a plenty, with pies, cakes, fruit and flan. Everything was very good, but not worth $68 per person. The entertainment was a 7 piece band which was lively and fun.

With dinner complete, we were ready to get some sleep to tour Moorea the following day in a rental car. We slept like babies, a cool breeze, no bugs and a comfortable bed granted us our best night?s sleep since we have been here. Amen.

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